Whitesburg KY

The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since 1907.


AUGUST 6, 1931

Letcher County Sheriff J.M. Potter is calling on the county’s citizens to help him put an end to “the lawlessness that is confronting our citizens.”

Former U.S. Senator Clarence Wayland Watson of West Virginia, now of New York, was among the guests entertained by Mr. and Mrs. Thomas S. Haymond of Fleming at the Bob Harris Lodge atop Pine Mountain. [Note: The Floyd County coal town of Wayland was named for Watson, who was president of Consolidation Coal Company and later became president of the Elk Horn Coal Company. The Letcher County town of Haymond was named after Thomas Haymond, an Elk Horn Coal official.]

Elk Horn Coal Corporation mines at Fleming, Hemphill and Haymond will continue operations now that the company has passed into the hands of a receivership. Former United States Senator Clarence Watson Wayland was in Whitesburg when he was appointed by Judge R.M. Fields to assume management of the company as receiver. Judge Fields also appointed J.F. Caulfield, a leading Elk Horn stockholder, as treasurer for the receiver. Elk Horn is the second-largest coal company with operations in Letcher County, where it employs 1,200 to 1,500 men. The poor market for coal during the last year is responsible for the court action.

Brother and sister Dana Ison, 21, and Gideon Ison, 17, were seriously injured in a car wreck near the mouth of Garner Saturday night. They are the son and daughter of Dr. and Mrs. G.D. Ison of Blackey. The siblings are expected to survive their injuries.

The new store and dwelling of N. Wise in Neon is nearing completion.

People in and around Sergent miss the work that was furnished by the Puritan mines since they closed some two months ago. It is hoped the mines will be sold and reopened.


AUGUST 7, 1941

Union and operator representatives deadlocked Wednesday in a conference over the walkout of 204 miners of two jointly-owned Hazard field pits after dispute overpayment of a $20 bonus to the miners. The conference was held after 110 miners of the Scuddy Coal Co. joined 94 Raccoon Coal Co. workers, who walked out Tuesday, halting operations at both mines, which produce 840 tons of coal daily.

Fred O. Blair, Jr., son of Mrs. Cora Collins of Whitesburg, has been made a corporal in Company “A”, 32nd Medical Battalion on duty at the Medical Field Service at Carlisle Barracks, Penn.

Monday at the Carr Fork mines, a slate fall occurred, fatally injuring Jordan Asher. Mr. Asher, about 48 years of age, lived at Blair Branch and was known as one of the best citizens of that section.

Robert Taylor stars in “Billy the Kid” at Isaac’s Kentucky Theatre in Whitesburg.

From The Eagle’s sister publication The Neon News:


AUGUST 8, 1941

“Dry weather is playing havoc with our corn and late vegetables,” says Crown correspondent Lloyd Brown, “although a good supply of potatoes and early vegetables is reported.”

The following men have been selected for induction by Local Board No. 101: Stephen Patrick Adams, Jim Hall, Carl James Shaw, Ralph Banks, James Ray Shields, Floyd Edward Miller, Hugh Marcum, and Norman Woodrow Huggins. They will be sent to the induction station of the U.S. Army at Fort Thomas.

The Cumberland Valley 4-H Club met July 21 with 17 members present. The topic for the program was “Consideration of Others in Good Citizenship”. Life is not so short but that there is always time for courtesy.

Corporal Wayne Hoffman of Whitesburg, now enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps, has been promoted to the rank of sergeant. Sgt. Hoffman has been with the Air Corps for two years. THURSDAY AUGUST 9, 1951 Over 5,500 Letcher Countians cast their votes in Saturday’s primaries, with the Democrats leading the balloting by about 200. In the Republican race for county offices, according to unofficial returns, W.L. Stallard Jr., won out over Danola D. Fields for Circuit Court Clerk and Stephen P. Adams was given the nod over Burnett Hogg for County Judge. On the Democrat ticket, Robert B. Collins is the nominee for county judge. Collins ran with no opposition.

Dr. R. Dow Collins, Letcher County Health Officer, says for the first six-month period of 1951, the Health Office has received notice of 651 live births, 17 stillbirths, and 147 deaths. These numbers are somewhat lower over the same period of last year, Dr. Collins said. He attributes this to the fact that many have migrated to other industrial areas, where their babies were born or deaths occurred.

The largest crowd ever to assemble in eastern Kentucky is expected at Pikeville on Labor Day, Sept. 3, when District 30 of the United Mine Workers will stage its Sixth Annual Labor Day Celebration. Last year at Mayking, a crowd estimated at nearly 50,000 attended the celebration.

Willie Lucas, Whitesburg businessman, and farmer, reports that he recently sold a 10-month-old, 700-pound Hereford bull to R.P. Price of Adairville for $355.


AUGUST 10, 1961

The City of Whitesburg can expect to start construction next spring on 60 units of low rent housing, a federal official indicated this week after a personal inspection of housing needs in this area.

The Letcher Fiscal Court this week gave final approval to the proposal calling for a special tax to finance a new county health center. County voters will be asked to say in the November general election whether they favor a special 10-cent levy for the health center.

“The home of Mr. and Mrs. Elbert Lee burned to the ground Wednesday evening,” says the Craft’s Colly news. “The V.F.W. fire truck was summoned but nothing was saved. The fire was believed to have caught from the stove while Mrs. Lee was at church and Mr. Lee was taking a nap.”

Master Sergeant James E. Banks, who makes his home in Whitesburg, retired from the U.S. Air Force July 31 after more than 20 years’ service. Sgt. Banks has been stationed at Moody AFB since April 1958, and the World War II veteran served as a noncommissioned officer in charge of the Redistribution and Marketing section.


AUGUST 12, 1971

Letcher Circuit Judge Stephen Combs has issued Pioneer Coal Co. a restraining order against Catherine Haynes, 76, of Blackey, preventing her from interfering with strip mining operations. She is accused of failing to protest after receiving a letter concerning an application for a strip mining permit, but she says she never received the letter. The Division of Reclamation relies on the names of property owners furnished by the company which applies for the permit, and Mrs. Haynes’s name was not included in the original list given by Pioneer.

Visitors to Fishpond Lake this week will hardly recognize it. Two weeks ago, the area was littered with trash, picnic tables were sunk in mud, and a green scum covered much of the upper end of the lake where a dock and floats were built three years ago for swimming. But a massive clean-up campaign has changed all that. Teams of men and equipment from the Letcher County Highway Department, the Jenkins Area Jaycees and Kiwanis Club, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the Neighborhood Youth Corps, and local residents have joined in the effort to transform the lake into an inviting recreation area for picnicking and fishing.

“Larry Boggs, brother of our neighbor Pansy Cornett, has been visiting with her and her family,” writes Linefork correspondent Della Shepherd. “He has just completed his service in Vietnam, and is home to stay. It is so good to have a son come home. Larry has done well in the service.”


AUGUST 13, 1981

Some $280,000 worth of stolen goods were recovered in Letcher County this week as the result of two apparently separate state police investigations. Police say $250,000 worth of stolen heavy equipment was found hidden at Deane just one night after two motorcycles and a tractor-tanker truck, valued at $30,000, were recovered at the home of Vernon Mullins at McRoberts. The suspects in the Deane case remain at large. Letcher Fiscal Court’s recent action lifting the county health tax has been declared “null and void” by the Letcher County Attorney’s office. The court had voted to lift the tax — which amounts to 2.9 cents on every $100 of assessed property. But County Attorney Guy Palumbo said “the court cannot on its own repeal” the tax because the levy was imposed by a vote of county residents and “only the electorate by referendum has the power to remove the tax.” State officials have said if the tax is lifted, the county health department would be forced out of operation.

The Whitesburg By-Pass will be completed by the end of this year, state officials say. Hinkle Construction Co. has been awarded a contract to pave the road, which links KY 15 at West Whitesburg with US 119 at Pine Mountain Junction.


AUGUST 7, 1991

School officials are asking how many high schools there should be in Letcher County. That is one of the questions that will be answered in a state facilities survey here later this year, county School Superintendent Jack Burkich said. “Certainly, the population will no longer support three high schools,” he said.

Officials from South East Coal Co. and the United Mine Workers of America were expected to meet in Lexington this week to resume contract negotiations for the first time since June 10. The bargaining session comes more than five weeks after members of UMWA locals 3007 in Whitesburg and 3008 in Estill County called off a strike against the company less than two days after it had begun.

The Whitesburg City Council will hold a public meeting at city hall to talk about the proposed trade of the city’s industrial site. The council has voted to exchange the city’s present industrial site front on Highway 15 for a 200-acre abandoned strip mine and tipple complex known as the Spreader Elkhorn property behind the Parkway Plaza Shopping Center in West Whitesburg.

A committee of citizens and magistrates is expected to recommend the Letcher County Fiscal Court begin a countywide recycling program here.


AUGUST 8, 2001

The home of Dennis and Paula Adams was ripped from its foundation when Elk Creek flooded. The couple and their three children were in the home when it floated down the hollow. Elk Creek, Gordon, and Gilley were the hardest-hit areas of Letcher County when officials say three to four inches of rain fell in an hour’s time.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources has cited the Nally and Hamilton Coal Co. for a fish kill in Smoot Creek. Conservation Officer Frank Campbell said the company was working on a silt pond at a Premium strip-mine and released a deluge that entered Smoot Creek and killed fish, hellgrammites and crawdads.

Seco voters approved the first legal wine sales in the county in half a century. Highland Winery, which is located in Seco, can begin selling its wines 60 days after the election.


AUGUST 10, 2011

Letcher County Judge/Executive Jim Ward has persuaded a natural gas company to use its heavy equipment to tear down about a dozen deteriorated buildings in the coming weeks. Ward said having EQT donate its services is a way of getting rid of “eyesores” at no cost to the county or property owners.

Coal’s contribution to electricpower generation during the first quarter of this year was the lowest in 30 years, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports. Coal accounted for 46 percent of total electricity, three percentage points less than the same period last year and six points down from 2008.

Letcher County could soon become one of the first local governments in the region to attempt to use pressurized steam to reduce household garbage by turning some of it into a renewable energy material called biomass. Letcher County Judge/ Executive Jim Ward appointed a committee to determine the feasibility of hiring a firm to “cook” the county’s garbage before it is finally disposed.

Judith Vermillion painted the barn quilt square recently placed at the mouth of Solomon Branch in Whitesburg. Mrs. Vermillion has painted about a dozen of the barn quilt squares, which are on display throughout Letcher County.

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